What Is Informal Education?
Education is one of the key factors to societal development. The process helps improve individuals’ life experiences and their productivity. Education includes structured learning, instructional practice, and experiences based on life experiences. It aims to enhance learning through the process of acquiring learning objectives, learning assessment, application of learning theories, and the promotion of learning within the school environment. The learning objectives define the curriculum, classroom rules and policies, student’s participation and interactions in the classroom, and feedback on learning and teaching from other students.
The concept of higher education dates back to the ancient Greek and Roman societies. In ancient societies, the learning process was primarily classroom based. However, with the progress of technology, education has also developed at a local level. The development of the internet has promoted development of online higher education. Online higher education system incorporates both classroom based and distance education into the same system.
Informal education is the general term used to describe the process by which people acquire knowledge on their own without the active participation of instructors, study leaders and other learners. Informal education systems are usually characterized by self-directed, socially participative and experiential methods of learning. Informal education is practiced by individuals who belong to different fields of education such as, college, technical school, secondary school, university, community college and junior college. Some forms of informal education include conversation, literature review, work experience and internship.
An informal educational system may include primary education, elementary or secondary school education, vocational education, adult education and higher education. Informal educational systems may include workshops, seminars, trips, camps and community learning programs. Most of these programs are non-formal but they often serve as an effective mechanism for disseminating information to as many persons as possible. Formal educational systems on the other hand, consist of the formal education, the teaching and learning methodologies, curriculum and assessment methods, institutional arrangements and evaluation procedures.
Learning requires both practice and perfecting. For informal education, it is not uncommon for students to improve their knowledge and skills through making use of various self-directed instructional methods including self-testing, role-playing, working under a mentor and exploring concepts through written and visual means. On the other hand, formal education focuses on the development of subject matter knowledge, the mastery of prescribed materials and other requirements for a student to achieve a particular goal. In most cases, formal education involves the teaching and learning of one specific topic or a range of topics in a specified order.
It is interesting to note that social media has become an important influence in the way people learn and get educated. As such, there are some forms of informal education which are now being incorporated through the use of social media. Examples include discussion boards, which enable learners to share ideas, experiences and insights through the medium of online discussion. There are also multimedia classes, such as film and music courses that allow students to explore new ways of perceiving and experiencing information and communication. Such techniques as group presentations, audio and video tutorials and educational podcasts offer students an opportunity to develop and implement new technologies and social media in the learning process.